More people are out and about in the summer, and many are riding on electric scooters downtown. Scott Farber, M.D., plastic and reconstructive surgeon at UT Health San Antonio, says his team is treating an increased number of people who fell off the scooters, particularly for facial injuries because they are landing on their face.
Dr. Farber operates at University Hospital, the Medical Arts and Research Center of UT Health Physicians, and Methodist Hospital. Surgery at University Hospital is offered through a clinical partnership of UT Health San Antonio and University Health System.
“I’ve taken care of people in their 60s who were on the scooters,” Dr. Farber said. “People of all ages are riding them.”
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in May released a study that showed an increase in emergency room visits since the e-scooter fad began. Nearly half of scooter injuries involve head trauma, the CDC reported. Many could be prevented if riders wore helmets, the study said.
The Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, part of the Long School of Medicine at UT Health San Antonio, treats facial injuries on a daily basis and has extensive experience in setting facial bones and repairing serious lacerations. Howard Wang, M.D., is the division chief.
“We have seen some pretty significant injuries, pretty bad facial fractures,” Dr. Farber said. “We work in conjunction with neurosurgery if the patient has a head injury.”
Dr. Farber is fellowship-trained in craniofacial surgery, which includes craniofacial reconstruction and facial cosmetic surgery.
Scar management is an important aspect of his work.
“Usually for bad scars, after the initial injury we let it heal for a few months, which allows the swelling to settle down,” Dr. Farber said. “Then we come back and reopen the scar and close it with very fine sutures to make it look flatter and much less noticeable.
“Everything scars,” he said, “but a wound heals in a better way when we address it, when it is closed meticulously.”
If a scar is serious enough, surgeons can insert a balloon underneath the skin to expand it, and bring in normal skin to cover the bad area. This is called tissue expansion, Dr. Farber said.
Plastic and reconstructive surgeons are trained to hide scars in places where they are hard to detect, such as the hairline or at a wrinkle.
“The cosmetic and the reconstructive aspects blend together in the sense that when we reconstruct someone, we are thinking about the cosmetic at the same time,” Dr. Farber said. “We want to make them look as normal as they possibly can.”
Other facial injuries that increase during the summer include dog bites (specifically in children) and sports injuries. Broken nose is the most common facial injury, usually occurring from a fall or from an impact on a baseball field or other sports venue.
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